Fortran (previously FORTRAN) is a general-purpose, imperative programming language that is especially suited to numeric computation and scientific computing. Originally developed by IBM at their campus in south San Jose, California in the 1950s for scientific and engineering applications, Fortran came to dominate this area of programming early on and has been in continual use for over half a century in computationally intensive areas such as numerical weather prediction, finite element analysis, computational fluid dynamics, computational physics and computational chemistry. It is one of the most popular languages in the area of high-performance computing and is the language used for programs that benchmark and rank the world’s fastest supercomputers.
Fortran (the name is a syllabic abbreviation derived from The IBM Mathematical Formula Translating System) encompasses a lineage of versions, each of which evolved to add extensions to the language while usually retaining compatibility with previous versions. Successive versions have added support for structured programming and processing of character-based data (Fortran 77), array programming, modular programming and generic programming (Fortran 90), high performance Fortran (Fortran 95), object-oriented programming (Fortran 2003) and concurrent programming (Fortran 2008).
This work was funded by a NERC Postgraduate and Professional Skills Development Award.
Dr Steven Dobbie
Associate Professor in Atmospheric Physics at the University of Leeds with over twenty years of programming experience in a research environment and about a decade of training experience.